Time we trea­sured our wa­ter­way wildlife

Canal Boat - - Letters - CB

ALTHOUGH I am in com­plete agree­ment with Frank Sanderson ( Feb) that we should trea­sure our wildlife and its place along the canals, he ig­nores the main rea­son for its cur­rent demise. That is the ef­fect over the past 60 or 70 years of more and more ef­fi­cient farm­ing meth­ods to pro­duce cheaper and cheaper food.

Yes there used to be more wildlife along the canals 50 years ago de­spite their poor state but that’s be­cause there was more wildlife ev­ery­where. Hedges were un­kempt and had far more wild­flow­ers in them than the tidy, flailed hedges of to­day’s coun­try­side. Those of us old enough to have driven cars in the Six­ties, Sev­en­ties and Eight­ies will re­mem­ber the swarms of in­sects that were squashed on the wind­screen and bon­net after a ride in the coun­try­side. No longer is that a prob­lem, thanks to the blan­ket use of pes­ti­cides. There are also fewer un­tidy places for wild­flow­ers which are no longer found in or around the huge fields of to­day be­cause of the ef­fec­tive use of her­bi­cides.

As for in­cor­rectly feed­ing wildlife, I can re­mem­ber my gran say­ing bread was bad for ducks and hedge­hogs, she was hardly a mem­ber of the wildlife Stasi. Also grey squir­rels don’t kill reds but they out­com­pete them as they are big­ger and im­mune to the para­poxvirus that has dec­i­mated the reds.

Fi­nally the pho­to­graph you printed shows a bar­ren tow­path de­void of wildlife with grass mown to bowl­ing green height and three bunches of non-na­tive gar­den daf­fodils. This re­flects the in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar idea that the coun­try­side should re­sem­ble a town park, with well cut grass, man­i­cured hedges and colour­ful rows of flow­ers.

Could I sug­gest rather than ask­ing what can wildlife or­gan­i­sa­tions do for us you should be ask­ing what can I do for wildlife. JON NI­CHOLLS, via email

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